Those of you who are regular readers may have noticed that nothing has been posted here in about a week. Chalk it up to a bad cold, a very bad cold. I barely remember the past few days - mostly I’ve slept around the clock. It’s a joke Mother Nature plays: the older you are, the harder bugs hit.
When I was a kid in the 1940s and 1950s, before the miraculous vaccines we have now for childhood diseases, at least one kid a year did not return to school in the fall, a victim of polio. Once or twice a year, a house in the neighborhood would be marked off limits with a big Health Department sticker on the door – QUARANTINE - because someone there had contracted a highly contagious disease - whooping cough, maybe, or smallpox. Sometimes people died.
So a cold was hardly remarkable. When I got one, my mother handed me a couple of extra packets of Kleenex and sent me to school. I don’t remember feeling sick. I studied, played, went to after-school classes and activities and hardly noticed the cold except for the annoyance of the runny nose. It was gone in two or three days.
Not so anymore. For about the past decade, colds come on like a speeding train - one minute I’m fine, the next I’m not – and leave me feeling like a train wreck. I’m down for days - exhausted, sleepy, stuffy, headache-y and miserable, incapable of much movement or coherent thought. The residue – mild versions of the same symptoms – hangs on for a week or two or more.
It is one of those changes that comes with aging nobody tells you about: just when "the days dwindle down to a precious few," more of them will be lost to what you had expected, based on youthful experience, to be a minor irritation.
I have been blessed with good health for all my 63 years, as have my family who mostly cruised through life with little more than an occasional cold or flu and then, in extreme old age, collapsed and died within a few weeks. I intend to do the same.
Meanwhile, there is a corny, old joke about aging that needs reinterpretation: “It takes twice as long to do half as much.” I haven’t run into that in general yet, but it surely applies to recovery from a cold.